the water spigot at Okhayeni Primary School–the school doesn’t have running water
On Tuesday, I took my first hot, running water shower in two weeks. It was glorious and I wanted it to last forever, though I kept it to a reasonable length.
Immediately afterwards, though, I thought to myself: I bet that’s a week’s worth of water that I just used. I decided to do some calculations to see if I was right.
US federal regulations now mandate low-flow shower heads, which allow 2.5 gallons/ minute at 80psi or 2.2 gallons/ minute at 60 psi. Let’s assume the latter and a short, 5 minute shower. That’s 11 gallons of water or 41.6 liters of water. A pre-1992 shower head might let 5.5 gallons/ minute flow through it. Total water usage for an older, high-flow shower head for the same shower would be 110 liters.
By comparison, by the end of my visit to Ingwavuma, I was using about 25L of water every 2.5 days (plus 5L of bottled drinking water.) That works out to 84 liters of water a week. So about two showers with a low-flow shower head or less than one with a high-flow shower head is about a week’s worth of water. And let’s not even talk about washing dishes or doing a load of laundry.
This is just about facts; I’m not pointing fingers or trying to guilt-trip anyone.